Top cop appeals to Berbicians for help
Guyana Chronicle
August 10, 2004

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POLICE Commissioner Winston Felix has called on residents in Berbice to assist the force in every way possible since the functions of the police are ineffective without them.

His appeal came Sunday during a live broadcast from the Little Rock television station in New Amsterdam.

Felix, appointed 'top cop' earlier this year, was on an inspection tour in Berbice, where he saw ranks, observed their working conditions, and assessed their performance.

He also met members of community policing groups (CPGs) and the Corentyne Chamber of Commerce to discuss a more coordinated response to an upsurge in crime in the county.

On Saturday, he accompanied President Bharrat Jagdeo to a meeting with CPG representatives at the Corriverton Town Centre.

Felix declared the Force’s support for CPGs working to stem the crime wave but said he was concerned about accountability of certain groups, and effectively managing the financial resources of the Police Force at specific periods.

On the Sunday TV broadcast, he noted that in an effort to rebuild relations with civilians, the Police Force must work with the public to discharge its duties.

The society is the beneficiary of its services, and as such the force will seek to improve its performance so that some suspicion and mistrust can be overcome easily, he said.

But the commissioner pointed out that the organisation is not without its problems, highlighting staffing, accommodation, training, public relations and the quality of ranks among issues that must be addressed.

He said he was not sure why young people do not want to joint the Police Force and wondered whether it is the salary scale, their value system or the general situation in the country.

However, he believes that with some amount of publicity and selling, the force can become attractive to young people.

Felix added that because of the nature of crime today, the police will have to improve their capacity through intelligence, and analytic and collective efforts.

He disagreed with the perception that ranks are poor investigators but explained that their skills need to be upgraded.

On allegations about a death squad operating out of the force, he said he is unaware of such a structure, but noted that if ranks are involved, they should be identified. A thorough investigation will then be held and the matter reviewed by the Chairman of the Police Complaints Authority and the Director of Public Prosecution, he pointed out.

He said the issue of prompt action and response to reports were dealt with at every station he visited over the past four days and declared that ranks must improve on their shortcomings, as the efficiency of the Police Force is based on their response.

Disciplinary breaches will be dealt with seriously, the commissioner promised.

On many occasions, perception is not reality, Felix said, referring to claims about cops covering for drug lords, while noting that the cartels have layers of persons protecting them, and in most cases the supporting persons are caught.

He said that youth groups supported by non-government organisations and civil society can help to alleviate crime, particularly in depressed communities, as those on the brink of crime can be rescued prior to becoming notorious criminals. (JEUNE BAILEY VAN-KERIC)